Is it permissible to intend to combine prayers if there is a possibility of missing a prayer? and In what situations can one imitate other madhhabs (sects) and combine prayers?

Details of the Question
Is it permissible to intend to combine prayers if there is a possibility of missing a prayer? and In what situations can one imitate other madhhabs (sects) and combine prayers?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Some of the daily prayers can be performed as jam at-taqdim (early combination) and as jam at-takhir (late combination). It is sunnah. According to what is recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) performed prayers in the form of late combination during the Battle of Tabuk. He performed the noon (zuhr) and afternoon (asr) prayers and the evening (maghrib) and night (isha) prayers together. The scholars of Shafii madhhab decided that the prayers could be performed in the form of early or late combination during travels and some situations based on the hadith above. 

Accordingly, a traveler (musafir), whether a man or woman, can combine the noon and afternoon prayers, and the evening and night prayers. If a person performs the noon and afternoon prayers together during the time of the afternoon prayer, and the evening and night prayers during the time of the night prayer, he will perform them in the form of late combination because he delays the first prayers. However, if he performs the noon and afternoon prayers together during the time of the noon prayer, and the evening and night prayers during the time of the evening prayer, he will perform them in the form of early combination because he performs the first prayers before their due time. Both of them can be applied depending on the situation. 

If the vehicle in which a person is traveling continues to move, it is better to perform the prayers in the form of late combination, that is, to perform the noon prayer together with the afternoon prayer during the time of the afternoon prayer and the evening prayer together with the night prayer during the time of the night prayer; if the person is resting, it is better to perform the prayers in the form of early combination, that is to perform the noon prayer together with the afternoon prayer during the time of the afternoon prayer and the evening prayer together with the night prayer during the time of the night prayer.

It is necessary to act in accordance with some conditions while performing prayers in the form of both late and early combination. For instance, it is necessary to perform the prayers in order in early combination. When the afternoon prayer is intended to be performed at noon and the night prayer in the evening, first one has to perform the noon prayer and then the afternoon prayer; and first the evening prayer and then the night prayer. Otherwise, it will be necessary to perform those prayers again because they will be invalidated. 

The second condition is, for instance, while performing the noon prayer to say the intention silently,”I will perform the afternoon prayer in the form of early combination after this prayer.” It is necessary to say the intention silently until one finishes the prayer by salutations. 

The third condition is not to give a break long enough to perform a two-rakat prayer between the two prayers. If there is a longer interval, then it becomes necessary to perform the second prayer in its due time.

The last condition is that traveling must continue until the second prayer starts to be performed. If the person arrives at the town he lives before he starts the second prayer, he has to perform that prayer in its due time.

Those conditions are for early combination. There are only two conditions for late combination. The first one is to have the intention of delaying the prayer and performing it during the time of the second prayer. For instance, if a person wants to perform the noon and afternoon prayer together, he must have the intention of performing the noon prayer during the time of the afternoon prayer and he must say the intention of performing it during the time of afternoon prayer before the time for the noon prayer ends. If he delays the prayer without saying the intention on time, he will have missed that prayer and will have committed a sin.

The second condition is that traveling must continue until the person performs both prayers. If he arrives at the place he lives in while he is performing the first and second prayer, the first prayer is regarded to have been missed and he becomes responsible.

It is not necessary to perform the prayers in order in late combination. For instance, the afternoon prayer can be performed before the noon prayer and the night prayer can be performed before the evening prayer.

If a person who intends to perform the noon and afternoon prayers in the form of early combination wants to perform the sunnah prayers too, he should perform the sunnah of the noon prayer, first; then, he should perform the fards of both prayers. After that, he should perform the last sunnah of the noon prayer and then the sunnah of the afternoon prayer. In late combination, he should perform the last sunnah of the noon prayer and the sunnah of the afternoon prayer before the afternoon prayer. The same thing is valid for the evening and night prayers, too.

It is permissible for a Shafii person to perform the four-rakat fard prayers as two rakats when he is musafir. He may perform them as four rakats without shortening if he wishes. However, he must say the intention of performing the four-rakat prayer as two rakats before he starts the prayer. That is, he must know that he is going to shorten the prayer. He may perform such a prayer alone or in congregation. Both of them are permissible. 

A Hanafi person can imitate the Shafii madhhab regarding the issue and can perform prayers in the form of early or late combination by shortening his prayers when he is musafir if he follows the conditions. While praying like that, He must not do anything that will invalidate the prayer according to Shafii madhhab.

Mehmed Paksu

Detailed information regarding the conditions of combining prayers and how to combine them:

Performing the noon (zuhr) and afternoon (asr) prayers during the time of the noon prayer and performing the evening (maghrib) and night (isha) prayers during the time of the evening prayer is called early combination (jam at-taqdim).

Performing the noon and afternoon prayers during the time of the afternoon prayer and performing the evening (maghrib) and night (isha) prayers during the time of the night prayer is called late combination (jam at-takhir). 

As for the morning (fajr) prayer, it cannot be combined with any prayers. 

It is not permissible to perform one of the five daily prayers by performing them earlier or later than their due time combining with another prayer if one of the certain conditions does not occur. Allah, the Exalted, ordered us clearly to perform prayers in their due time: " Such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times." 1

However, Islam, which is a religion of ease and tolerance, permitted the performance of some fard prayers outside their due time in order to eliminate the problems and difficulties if certain conditions occur. We should state that it is better not to combine prayers in order to avoid the dispute among the madhhabs regarding the issue by performing them in their due time. Besides, our beloved Prophet (pbuh) always shortened his prayers when he was musafir (traveler) but he did not always perform prayers in combination.

If it had been more virtuous to perform prayers by combining them, he would have always combined his prayers when he was a musafir. However, he sometimes combined the noon and afternoon prayers, and the evening and night prayers in the form of both early and late combination. It is possible to show the following narrations as proof:

"The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) delayed the noon prayer and performed it during the time of the afternoon prayer by combining them if he had set out before the sun moved westwards. If the sun had moved westward and the time for the noon prayer was due, he performed both the noon and afternoon prayers and then set out." 2

The following was reported from Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him):  "When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was a traveler, he combined the noon and afternoon prayers. He also combined the evening and night prayers." 3

The reasons for early and late combinations

It is permissible for travelers to combine the noon and afternoon prayers, and the evening and night prayers in the form of early or late combination if they have the necessary traveling conditions and the distance for traveling is more than 89 kilometers.

It is permissible for hajjis to perform the noon and afternoon prayers in Arafat during the time of noon prayer in the form of early combination, to perform the evening prayer and the night prayer in Muzdalifa during the time of the night prayer in the form of late combination. 4

If the noon and afternoon, and the evening and night prayers are desired to be combined, they can be combined only in the form of early combination.

According to Hanafi madhhab, it is not permissible to combine prayers when someone is musafir or when it rains. Only hajjis can combine their noon and afternoon prayers in the form of early combination in Arafat, and their evening and night prayers in the form of late combination in Muzdalifa because they are obligatory for the duty of hajj. 5

The conditions of early combination and late combination

The following six conditions need to occur for early combination:

1. Intention: it means to intend to perform two prayers by combining them For instance, if a person wants to perform the evening and night prayer together in the form of early combination, he must have, in his heart, the intention of performing the night prayer after the evening prayer. It is necessary to have the intention during the first prayer even if together with the salutation. 

2. Order. First, the prayer whose time is due must be performed and then the prayer that is to be performed earlier must be performed because the time is the time of the first prayer; since the second prayer is performed depending on it, the priority must be given to the first prayer.

After performing the first and the second prayer, if it is understood that the first prayer has become invalid due to a missing condition or part, the second prayer will also be valid even if it has been performed correctly and fully because, in this case, the condition of the correct performance of the prayer of that time has not been realized. However, the second prayer is regarded to have been performed as nafilah (supererogatory).

3. Muwalat (Maintenance of Succession). It means performing the two prayers one after the other, without having a long interval between them because combining them makes them as a single prayer. Just as it is fard to perform the rakats of a single prayer without any intervals so too is it fard to perform those two prayers without any interval. If an interval occurs between those two prayers due to an excuse like fainting and forgetting, combination becomes invalid and it becomes necessary to perform the second prayer in its due time. However, if there is a short interval like adhan (call to prayer), iqamah and wudu (ablution), the prayer will not be invalidated. 6

As a matter of fact, Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) had iqamah between the two prayers when he combined prayers in Namira.

4. Continuation of Being a Musafir. The state of being a musafir must continue until the first takbir (iftitah) of the second prayer is uttered. Even if the state of being a musafir ends after the first takbir of the second prayer is uttered, the combination of the prayers will continue. However, if the state of being a musafir ends before the first takbir of the second prayer, it will not be valid to perform the two prayers by combining them because the reason validating combining (jam) has disappeared.

5. Continuation of the Time of the Fist Prayer. One must make sure that the time of the first prayer will not expire until the second prayer is started correctly.

6. Thinking that the First prayer has been performed correctly. It is compulsory for the combination to be valid. For instance, if the first prayer is the Friday (Jumua) prayer and if the Friday prayer is performed in more than one mosque without any necessity, and if there is a doubt about which one has been performed before, or whether they have been performed at the same time, it will not be valid to perform the afternoon prayer together with the Friday prayer before its due time.

Two conditions are necessary for the prayers to be performed in the form of late combination when one is musafir:

a) To have the intention for late combination during the time of the first prayer. When the intention is said during the time of the first prayer, there must be enough time left for the performance of a full or shortened prayer. If the person to perform the prayers in the form of late combination does not have the intention during the time of the first prayer or if there is not enough time left for the performance of a full or shortened prayer, he becomes a sinner. If he cannot perform even one rakat of that prayer in its due time, he will be regarded to have missed the prayer. If he can perform one rakat in its due time, he will be regarded to have performed that prayer although he will be regarded to have committed haram.

b) The state of being a musafir must continue until the prayers to be performed in the form of late combination are completed. If the state of being a musafir ends before those prayers are completed, the prayer to be performed late is regarded to have been missed. It is not fard but sunnah to follow the order and muwalat in the prayers to be performed in the form of late combination. 

It is permissible for a muqim person (a person who is not musafir) to perform the afternoon prayer together with the Friday prayer in the form of early combination due to rain. It is permissible to perform those prayers in the form of early combination even if the rain wets only the outer parts of the clothes or under the shoes. Melting snow or hail is regarded like rain. There are certain conditions for a muqim person to perform prayers by combining them. They are as follows:

1. Rain, melting snow and hail must exist during the first takbirs of the both prayers and the salutations of the first prayer for the combination to be valid. If the rain stops during the first prayer or after both prayers, the early combination will not be invalidated. 

2. The order regarding the two prayers must be followed.

3. Muwalat between the prayers must be observed; that is, they must be performed one after the other without any interval. 

4. Intention must be said for the combination as it is said when one is musafir.

5. At least the first takbir of the afternoon prayer must be performed in congregation. It is not necessary for the congregation to continue until the end of the prayer. If a person leaves the congregation before the first rakat is completed and starts to pray alone, it will not do any harm according to the strong view. 

6. The imam leading those two prayers must say the intention to be both as an imam and congregation.

7. Combination must be in a distant place of prayer; the congregation must have difficulty in reaching that place. The imam is not bound by that decree. He can lead both prayers by combining them even if he does not have any difficulty due to rain. 

If one of those conditions does not occur, a muqim person cannot perform two prayers by combining them.

According to the well-known view, intense darkness, fear, mud and illness are not among the reasons that make it permissible for a muqim to perform two prayers by combining them. However, in case of an illness, the view that regards it permissible to perform prayers in the form of early or late combination is preferable. (See Mehmet Keskin, Büyük Şafi İlmihali: Big Shafii Catechism)

1 an-Nisa 4/103.
2 Bukhari, Taqsiru's-Salat, 15, 16; Muslim, Musafirin, 46; Abu Dawud, Salat, 274; Nasai, Mawaqit, 42.
3 Bukhari, Taqsiru's-Salat, 13.
4 Nawawi, al-Majmu', 4/249.
5 Ibn Abidin, Raddu'l-Mukhtar, 2/504, 509.
6 Nawawi, al-Majmu', 4/253; Zuhayli, al-Fiqhu'l-Islami, 2/1378.

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